Monday, December 31, 2012

Bush telegraph

 The storm was clearing, the morning warm. On my way down to the jetty to do my tai chi, I met Roger, one of the apartment dwellers, climbing the steps on his way home. 'I've been out fishing already,' he said, 'and I've had a swim.' I just saw M, who moved in yesterday and said, 'come on in, the water's warm,' so she jumped in for a swim too.
 It was one of those idyllic, still summer mornings. Two women were cavorting in the water, chattiing and laughing. 'Yes, it's warm,' they said.
 The water was calling, no question of that. So I rang my swimming friend, and soon she and her husband joined me. 'We were getting so hot in the garden,' she said, 'and your call came at the perfect time.'
So in we waded. We swam, we floated, we talked, we splashed around lazily. And we had a good catch-up, about her holiday in Cairns, my time at the bach . . .
Summer is the season of spontaneity. We are all playing truant, even when there's work to be done. The water washed away my frustrations with computers, and for the whole hot summer's day I felt refreshed on the inside.
There's a phrase 'bush telegraph', which describes the way messages are conveyed when we are away from technology. From Roger to our new neighbour, to me, then my friends, the message travelled. When the tide is high and the water warm, the whole neighbourhood needs to know. Because tomorrow it may well be blowing and raining again (it was).

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Fusion Xmas - finally!

I'm delighted to be posting again. Because you see, my laptop died on Christmas Day - well almost. It seems it was in the last throes, but was able to emit its data to my new one - but very slowly. It took 2 days and 2 nights, with a fan heater set to cool, placed on my desk to keep the little metal brain soothed. Touch and go, but most of my data is loaded, my photos have been saved, and I have a beautiful new iMac on my desk, which makes my pictures look bright and shiny.
It's a little after the event, but I must tell you what I saw when I walked into the kitchen at my son's house for Christmas lunch. Three pairs of Chinese hands with their little rolling pins were working away, helping my daughter-in-law make dumplings - it's a Chinese new year speciality, but transferred nicely to our Christmas.
 It's a lot of work, but they were laughing and chattering away, mostly in Mandarin, and as they stuffed the little dumplings. 'What's in the stuffing?' I asked. 'Gossip!' they laughed.
 Meanwhile, in the kitchen, my son was tossing mustard seeds, cumin and coriander and much more into the pan to prepare his famous dahl - he is an expert on Indian cooking.
 He also makes a fine home-made hummus, a touch of the Middle East. We also had a dish of noodles and another of snow peas, brought by the Chinese visitors.
 I brought a garden salad, which I tossed up in the kitchen amidst the bustle, while a chitter-chatter of little children, all friends from Play Centre (like their mums) ran up and down, outside and in, squealing with excitement.
 My granddaughters (one a teenager) had already helped with the piece de resistance for dessert
 and my son had concocted a gluten-free frozen blueberry pie, which disappeared very fast.
The Christmas tree was decorated with ornaments from Christmases past, together with the new addition of a stitched felt star, made by my daughter-in-law.
New Zealand is full of so many cultures, and all the rules about Christmas dinner (which go with a winter Christmas anyway) have been tossed out the window. We all join in together, with whoever is around, and have a good time. And the children, who met when they were very small, in the cooperative atmosphere of Play Centre, loved every minute.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

First swim

When you are four years old, your first surf swim of the year is exciting. Especially when the waves are big and foaming and bucking like wild ponies. But when you have a strong daddy to hold on to, you know you are safe, and so you squeal and shriek with pleasure.
A cave looks like a safe place to be, 
until you are half way in, and suddenly it's time to go 
and look for treasure.
The pohutukawas are full of flower, and the sun is shining. Life is pretty good, really.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

For you, at Solstice

 Here at the bach, life is simple. No shops, no piped water, no through roads; and so gifts must be conjured up out of whatever nature provides.
 For solstice, I have made you a basket. Because it's summer solstice today in New Zealand, little suns dance around the rim.
 and on the inside are berries, for ripening, a feather for the flight of the imagination, and a 'rabbit's tail' to caress your cheek. In the world there have been some harsh events. And so I send you a basket of goodness,
 full of treasures chosen by Mira, little gifts to warm your heart.
 And a fish, to remind you of swimming freely. Here we are swimming or splashing daily in the stream, lagoon or sea, wriggling our legs and squealing with delight.
Finally, I have made you a ball. In the ball I have caught the sun. At solstice, the sun turns. Our peak moment is here, and from now on, the sun will be yours. I bounce this ball across the world to all of you in the northern hemisphere,
where the snow is falling and you shiver in the freezing air, I bounce the sun over to you.
Solstice blessings to you all!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

The troll and the fairy

The stream runs quietly down to the sea from the bush clad hills of the Centennial Memorial Park.
 The waters are flanked by wild flowers
and under the bridge lives a troll
 who has to be appeased with feasts of fish, chocolate drink, and soup, all gathered from the edges of the stream.
 Yes, the bach fairy has come to visit, and she knows all about such things. She even makes 'berries' for the troll by tying knots in pieces of reed. Whenever a car approaches and the troll booms out 'Pass', she squeals with delight as the car rumbles overhead.
The stream itself has its own magic. 'Look granny, I can see the sand swimming.'
 We two are together in my favourite place. The mist has cleared, the sun is out, and playtime has begun.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

My turn now

 The bach is wrapped around with a shawl of mist. The shawl has floated down from the cloud-filled sky and softly caressed the hill tops.
I am enveloped in sweet solitude as I recover from a life with too many details in it. Soft focus is perfect.
And what's more I am being sung to, by many hidden songsters in the kanuka trees. The tuis have been melodious all day with their 'chk, chk, chaa!', while the pipiwharauroa (shining cuckoo) sings its high soprano, 'kui, kui, kui, whiti, whiti, ora' (this is what Maori heard it say; it means 'no food, no food, no food', which was the song at the start of spring, then ends with the phrase that means there is now plenty').
Other birds twitter or sound just one or two shrill notes. Their music strikes through the misty surroundings like a ray of light.
I am relaxing, and letting go. It's warm and humid here today. I've been sitting and lying a lot, and letting the bird song sink into me. Delicious.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Songs for Franklin Rd

 Franklin Road is a very wide street in Ponsonby. Great trees arch across the road and intertwine their leafy canopies throughout the summer. There is also something else that is special about Franklin Rd.
 Little by little, over the years, the residents have adopted the practice of 'lighting up' their houses for Christmas.
 Some of them have a modest approach
 but everyone does something, and some are quite elaborate,
even providing a seat for people to be photographed on,
 and inventive, using every bit of fence and verandah as a prop for lights of all colours.
 I took these photos just as the light was fading. I was on my way to the Voice Club party, in a house on Franklin Road. There we feasted, laughed and talked, relieved that our big concert was over last week,
but we still had plenty of songs inside us. And so, as is our tradition, we stepped out on to the street and sang for the crowds of people, mostly young, who walk up and down Franklin Rd once darkness falls. The atmosphere was festive, with everyone gaping and pointing at the brightly lit houses, and then stopping to enjoy our songs.
It must take a lot of coordination for everyone to light up their houses like this, and they give so much pleasure to young and old. It's a fun place to sing, and a good way to bring a year of hard vocal work to a happy conclusion.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

How we flowered!

 Everything is flowering profusely on the west coast this summer. Manuka and kanuka with their tiny white flowers give the hillsides a star-dusty look. My women's group, that celebrates seasonal festivals together, gathered for a weekend together
 in my friend's bach, which is higher up the hill than mine. From it we feel we are soaring like birds over the hidden valley in which the pohutukawa blooms, so richly this year,
and we drift out over the large inland dune that formed Lake Wainamu, hidden but always felt, in the V of the hills.
 Food, as always, was delicious and varied. This salad was made from rocket, smoked fish and hard-boiled eggs - very frisky on the palate.
Outside, the sea merged into mistiness or grew golden in the sunsets.
Here's a little glimpse of our centerpiece, which we put together each time from various symbols that we bring: a paua shell fragment in a deep blue bowl of water,
 a cloth, candle, fruit and leaves as we formed our circle and contemplated the theme of giving and receiving,
and these cosmos flowers, which burst out in my bach garden the day before. With six women (2 absent this time), who have met for 20 - 28 years for this purpose, and with summer solstice so close, it's no wonder that we felt expansive and grateful. We flowed into deep conversations, the stillness of meditation, and felt, yet again the full flowering of our love for one another and the richness of our lives.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Oh how we sang!

 We have just had our annual concert. This is the 4th year now that I've been singing with the Voice Club - 70 to 80 of us who love to sing. We are directed by the talented David Tillinghast, who does some amazing arrangements, often with zany rhythms. This year we sang to several hundred people in a big Auckland school auditorium.
 'Dress colourfully,' said David, and so we did.
 We put on our best finery, and our most brilliant colours.
And oh, how we sang! with heart and soul. Knowing we were raising money for charity, put a glow in our hearts. It's a busy time of year, but summer solstice and Christmas are both seasons for thinking of others.

This year we have been able to help a couple of schools in the poorer part of South Auckland to buy instruments, and also had enough to give to help families of young people who have cancer. At the end of the concert, we had big smiles on our faces, feeling the joy of song and the joy of giving, coming together.
PS The audience had a good time too!